Robbie Russell, the Scotland and London Irish hooker, has been forced to retire from the game due to injury after a distinguished career playing in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
The 31-year-old, Brisbane-born player learned his rugby in Australia where he played with Souths before moving to his grandfather'[s homeland where he played for Aberdeen GSFP and Edinburgh Reivers before moving south of the border to join Saracens in 1999.
Scotland coach Frank Hadden said: “I am sorry to hear that injury has forced Robbie Russell to retire. I wish him all the best. I first came across him playing club rugby for Aberdeen Grammar and promptly got him involved with the Caledonia Reds professional team.
"Robbie played in both the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cup competitions scoring tries against Uruguay and Australia respectively. The competition for the hooker position in the national side has been intense in recent times and I always kept an eye on his form because, at his best, he was a quality front-row forward."
Robbie moved from north London to south-west London in July 2004 when he joined London Irish for whom he played 60 games and scored seven tries. He won 27 caps for Scotland, featuring during both the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cups, and scoring four tries.
Robbie said: "I've had a great career and thoroughly enjoyed my rugby wherever I've played. I would like to have played on for another couple of seasons, unfortunately that is not going to be physically possible. I would like to thank all the players, coaches and management and supporters I have met over the years and specifically at London Irish for their help, friendship and encouragement over the past three seasons."
"We're sorry that Robbie has had to call it a day on his career and we sympathise with his situation," said Brian Smith, Director of Rugby of London Irish. "His dynamic ball carrying and aggressive defence will be missed. We thank him for his great contribution to the club and wish him and his family well for the future."
Hooker. Born 1.5.76 in Brisbane, Australia. 5ft 10in, 14st 13lbs.
Robert Reid Russell scored two tries when he came on from the bench in Scotland's historic 100 - 8 victory over Japan at McDiarmid Park in Perth in November 2004. He started for Scotland against his former side Queensland on the 2004 summer tour of Australia and followed that with games against New South Wales Country (rep) and New South Wales Waratahs.
He scored Scotland’s only try in their 2003 Rugby World Cup quarter final match against Australia. He started a Murrayfield Test match for the first time in four years in the RWC Countdown match against Italy in 2003. His previous nine caps had come as a substitute and injury had also cost him the chance of greater involvement. He won his first cap against Romania at Hampden Park in August 1999, seven months after he had returned for his second stint in Scottish rugby. He scored a try to mark his second international appearance - as a replacement in the 1999 World Cup match against Uruguay.
Previously, he had played for Queensland’s under-19 and under-21 teams before being called into the state’s senior training squad in 1998. He had a season with the Aberdeen Grammar School FP club in 1997-98 and returned to Scotland in January 1999 to enlist with Edinburgh Reivers, though after that season he joined Saracens. In the summer of 2004 he left Saracens for London Irish.
He has made six appearances for Scotland A, scoring a try in the 61-6 win against the Italians in March, 1999, and he played in two of the four matches on that year’s Scotland XV tour to South Africa, scoring a try against Northern Free State. He qualifies for Scotland through his grandfather, also Robert Reid Russell, who was born in Edinburgh.
27 caps: 1999 - R WC(U(rep) Sp Sam(rep) NZ(rep)). 2000 - I (rep). 2001 - F (rep). 2002 - F (rep) W (rep). 2003 - W (rep) It (rep) SA1(rep) SA2 (rep) It I (rep) WC(J F(rep) Fj(rep) A(rep)). 2004 - W(rep) E(rep) Fr(rep I(rep) J(rep) A(rep) SA(rep). 2005 - It(rep) Points: 20 - 4 tries.